Fic: Ships in the Night part 17/17 (QL, Sam/Donna)

At the sound of his name, Sam’s head came up and he stared at her in partial disbelief.

“Donna…”

His wife threw herself into his arms.

“When you didn’t come back…I was so scared,” she sobbed. “I thought I might have lost you forever. I would have done anything to find you…”

Sam held her tightly, not realizing until that moment how much he had missed her. Al and Beth, standing together not far from the reunited couple, smiled at each other.

“It’s your sign, Al,” Beth said softly.

Hearing her friend’s voice, Donna turned her head towards the Observers. “Beth? Who…?”

Sam looked at Al, putting the final piece in the puzzle with Donna’s comment.

Still smiling, the Calaviccis took each other by the hand. Instantly, each became visible to both Leapers.

“It’s good to see you again, Al,” Donna told him with a smile as her memory of him returned.

“Good to be seen,” he replied gruffly. Beth conveyed the response to Donna since she still couldn’t hear the other hologram.

“You remember Beth,” Al remarked to Sam.

“Not as well as I should probably,” he confessed. “The last thing I remember is telling her you were coming home from Vietnam. I’m sure it’ll come back eventually, though.”

Donna frowned, another mystery unraveling. “You told Beth that Al was coming home?”

Sam, Al and Beth all nodded.

“That’s what we never told anyone at the Project,” Beth explained softly. “Do you remember on Sam’s last Leap before we lost him? How Al fainted when he saw me, and when he recovered, insisted that Sam was in 1969?”

Donna nodded slowly.

“Well, that’s because, for him, until that moment…I had left him before he came back from the war.” Tears filled her eyes. “I had him declared dead and remarried.”

Al put an arm around his wife’s shoulders.

“I’m sorry, Beth…I didn’t know,” Donna replied sincerely, glad that Al was there.

Sam’s face was thoughtful. “I’m trying to remember the rest of that Leap. I…was myself…even though it was the exact day I was born. So strange. The bartender…he told me I was controlling my own Leaps–I didn’t believe him…I’m not sure I do now either. He told me I could go wherever, whenever I wanted to from there, even home.” His face became pained. “I was going to, but I knew I had to do that for you first, Al. You’ve given up so much for me, and I’ve been so selfish. And when I saw the look on Beth’s face when I told her…”

Beth smiled softly.

“I knew there were so many more people I could help. Even if he was right and I could control the Leaps myself–especially then–I felt I was being selfish to want to go home.” He embraced Donna tightly. “If I had only known…” His eyes then fixed on Beth and Al. “Why didn’t you tell us we were both here?”

Al smiled. “You had to find out on your own.”

“What happens to Jack and Ferne?”

“Let’s see…she quits the film industry, but uses some of the money she earned to pay his way through medical school. When he gets out, they get married and move to Montana, where they live on a ranch and raise horses. He works as a doctor and she teaches drama at a local high school. She starts going by her middle name, Allison, and apparently no one ever realizes that Allison Kemp used to be Ferne Marshall. They have three kids and a dog named..” Here Al laughed. “A dog named Ziggy! I guess they remembered something after all!”

“So I was right. They do belong together.”

“Yeah, though for a while there it looked like you thought YOU belonged with her,” Al retorted with a smile.

A wave of guilt swept over Sam with the memory of other Leaps. “Donna, I am so sorry! I–I don’t even want to say it out loud! How could I hurt you like that?” His face was anguished.

She was pensive for a few moments. “I can’t lie to you, Sam. I tried to protect you from it last time because you’d only been back for a little while, but I never got the chance to tell you the truth. I won’t take that chance again.” She sighed. “Yes, it hurt. It hurt pretty badly. But I forgave you a long time ago because I love you, and knew you would never have done it if you’d known about me. Besides, if you hadn’t been Jack, I might have done the same thing.” She smiled sadly at him. “Can you forgive yourself, Sam?”

“Do you want me to?”

“With all my heart. If you don’t, will you ever be able to believe that I forgave you?”

Sam’s only answer was to hold her tighter.

Al smiled. “Ready to come home, pal?”

Sam looked down into Donna’s hopeful face. How could he have ever given her up, even for his Project? At the same time, how could he give up the chance to heal just one more hurt? Did he even have a choice?

“I…I don’t know. If I keep Leaping–”

“NO!” Donna’s voice was firm. “You’re not going anywhere–not without me!”

Al grinned. “That goes for me too. What was the big idea of giving your Observer nothing to observe?”

“Hey, don’t leave me out of the party,” Beth interceded.

“Well?” Donna asked expectantly. Three pairs of eyes focused on Sam.

Sam nodded. “I love you, Donna,” he replied earnestly. “I promise I will never leave you again.”

“Can you keep that promise, Sam?” Al asked warily.

His friend nodded. “That much I know I can control. Are you sure you want to come along, Al? I don’t want to take either of you away from your family–”

“In case you forgot, Sam,” Beth spoke up, her words passed along by Al, “You two are as much a part of our family as the girls. Don’t be surprised if they wan’t to come along too.”

“Is the Imaging Chamber big enough for that?”

Sam and Donna felt it at the same time–the sense of completion and release that signaled a coming Leap.

He took her hand. “As long as we’re touching, we’ll Leap together.”

“Well, if that’s the case…” With a mischievous smile, Donna kissed him again. Sam’s arms went around his wife and held her to him in a tight embrace. They were still kissing when they Leaped…

Together.

On the day I walked away
All the blue rolled into gray.
Now in the dark, alone I lay.
Should’ve stopped, but I could never, ever stay.

Somewhere in the night,
Inside my dreams you burn so bright
And I am with you there and everything’s all right.

Somewhere in the night,
Before the darkness turns to light,
Let me love you there,
Somewhere in the night.
from “Somewhere in the Night” by Scott Bakula

sung by Sam, “Piano Man”

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